Hopefully for the long term...
The FSA had a history of publishing important papers that then had little real impact on either its subsequent actions or the public conversation.
Two examples - Treating customers fairly after the point of sale, and another on the implications of having a Non Zero Failure regulatory regime - both are obvious areas where a more active approach by the regulator and the industry could have saved considerable pain.
But both failed to translate into other FCA priorities, while being passed over by firms too preoccupied by more urgent regulatory implementation. It would be a great shame if this paper, on the "Ageing population and financial services", met the same end.
The paper brings together a wealth of research and insight from an impressively wide range of sources. In doing so, it produces an invaluable menu of (growing) issues and potential solutions that deserve serious consideration by everyone concerned.
The FCA's proposed next steps are a sensible array of initiatives and suggested partnerships, recognising this is still "early stage" work. The FCA's role in these steps - eg a further review in 3-5yrs - reads as a commitment to act.
In the past, however, such commitments have sometimes petered out in the face of new priorities. Some of the language used here - share... inform... pay close attention to... - doesn't always inspire confidence, but this is a priority that obviously isn’t going away.
Firms, meanwhile, should ferociously devour its contents for any insights and ideas they are not already thinking about. Three ideas that stood out for me:
1. The role of the branch in a world where an increasing proportion of customers are older
2. Implications for mortgage finance (an obvious call but the scale is still daunting)
3. Implicit questions about the value of "buyer beware" - especially for older customers - in a world of increasingly complex products.
Linda Woodall, Director of Life Insurance and Financial Advice at the FCA, said: 'We hope that today’s paper will help drive further positive innovation in the interests of older consumers. Our findings highlight the extensive public policy challenge requiring action from firms, government, regulators and other parties to bring about improvements for older consumers who use financial services.'